What is a Gerund Phrase?A gerund phrase is created when a gerund – a verb that takes an -ing form and functions as a noun – has a modifier, object or both. That sounds quite technical, so let’s break it down for a simple explanation of a gerund phrase: First, here is an example of a gerund phrase in a sentence
- Eating a slice of pie quickly is a recipe for disaster.
- The gerund in the sentence is eating. (Remember, a gerund is a noun that is formed by adding the -ing suffix to a verb.)
- The Gerund phrase object in the sentence (the thing being acted upon, in this case by eating) is a slice of pie.
- The modifier in the sentence is quickly.
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How do you recognize a gerund phrase when you see one?A gerund phrase will follow these rules, which can help you identify a gerund phrase in a sentence:
- The phrase will always start with a gerund.
- The gerund phrase will either have a modifier, an object or both.
- The entire phrase will function as a noun.
- The phrase will have singular agreement with a verb.
- Reading books quietly is my favorite pastime.
- My favorite pastime is reading books quietly
- I recommend reading books quietly to pass the time.
- Television is my favorite pastime.
- My favorite pastime is television.
- I recommend television to pass the time.
- Drinking beer heavily is bad for your health. (gerund phrase)
- Drinking beer heavily, Tom and Jim became more raucous. (not a gerund phrase)
- Alcohol is bad for your health. (sentence still makes sense)
- Alcohol, Tom and Jim became more raucous. (sentence no longer makes sense)
Gerund Phrase ExamplesWhile the rules of gerund phrases set out earlier help us recognize them in a sentence, gerund phrases have various uses in a sentence. They have a variety of roles in a sentence and can be acted upon in varying ways: Sometimes the gerund phrase is the subject; sometimes it is the object or indirect object; other times it is the object of a preposition; and finally, it can also be the predicate nominative. Examples of gerund phrases for each group are given below: Subject Examples In the following examples, the gerund phrase is acting as the subject of the sentence. The subject is the thing or person that carries out the action of the verb.
- Sleeping through the night is difficult for me.
- Making noise is what happy children and almost all teenagers do best.
- Watching bad television defined my teenage years.
- Running with scissors on a slippery floor was a terrible idea.
- Travelling across France should be a rite of passage for all writers.
- I love sleeping through the night.
- My parents prefer eating dinner alone.
- We would not recommend travelling without insurance.
- His daughter enjoys fixing broken bicycles.
- Do they like swimming with dolphins?
- As part of her new wellness regimen, Jenny made sleeping through the night her priority.
- Clinton gave running for president her best shot.
- We make writing three poems a requirement to pass our course.
- Men don’t always see raising children well as an accomplishment.
- Why don’t you make completing a marathon your main goal?
- My biggest difficulty is sleeping through the night. (What is my biggest difficulty? It is sleeping through the night.)
- Our top priority was getting everyone on the plane.
- The critical issue of his arrest wasn’t driving without a license.
- Her favorite thing was listening to music.
- A good career for her might be coaching soccer.
- The doctor suggested drinking warm milk for sleeping through the night. (For what? For sleeping through the night.)
- By crying like a baby, you won’t get anywhere in life.
- Exercise is futile without eating healthily.
- He wanted to learn more about riding a bike.
- Detectives were relieved after finding the evidence.